McSweeny’s delivers first rate writing to iPad

Spoiler alert! McSweeny’s Quarterly Review provides one of the most unique reads anywhere and now that it’s migrated to the iPad with the Small Chair app you can enjoy it in gorgeous digital format. Not the full McSweeney’s experience (that costs a $50 subscription and an entire bookcase if you subscribe for more than two years), but pretty damn close. The digital version is still an iPad best buy..

The spoiler above comes with a caveat. If you think NPR is subversive and that movies by the Farrelly brothers reached the pinnacle of wit and entertainment, you probably won’t enjoy McSweeny’s. The journal features some of the best writing around, a delightful mix of high brow and pop culture. Think James Joyce meets Groucho Marx or Doris Lessing and Joy Behar.

The print versions of McSweeny’s are works of art, bound in cigar boxes, magnetic covers and fold out folios. The art is exceptional and the writing ranges from high quality literature to the avant garde and experimental.

McSweeny’s app offers digital books, samples from their four print journals and brief bathroom reads courtesy of their daily internet reports.

The iPhone and now iPad Small Chair subscription offer highlights from four McSweeny’s publications, including video samples from their quarterly DVD journal, and snipets from their web site. They are also expanding their digital books selection. The subscription is $5 a year and well worth the price.

McSweeny’s provides just about any type of read you’re in the mood for from thoughtful prose to short bathroom reads. I can’t think of any other journal that throws in Starbucks haiku, handwriting analysis of Bigfoot, and (one of my personal favorites) H.P. Lovecraft as a middle school substitute teacher. You may find yourself lingering in the bathroom longer than you expected.

The video and art are high quality and well rendered.

Like The Daily, everything is formatted for display on your iPad or iPhone and your subscription covers both devices. The typography is as crisp as I’ve seen on an ereader and the navigation equally well implemented.

The digital books are easy to navigate and the type is extremely readable.

My only real complaint is that articles and books don’t synch on two different devices the way Kindle and iBooks synch. Once you start a longer article or book you might want to stick to that device. You can scroll quickly through the articles to find your place, but you have to remember where that was.

But this is a small price to pay for some of the best literature being written today for broader reading audiences.

Jenny Manytoes rates McSweeny’s

Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over McSweeny’s for the iPad. The literature is above most cats’ heads but even smart cats know a good read when they find one. McSweeny’s for iPad is the smart reader’s best buy.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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